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updated: 6/20/2012 2:04 PM

Naperville denies McDonald's downtown plan

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Naperville City Council members weren't clowning around Tuesday night when they unanimously denied a plan for the city's sixth McDonald's restaurant.

Council members said they initially were thrilled that McDonald's wanted to open a downtown store on the southeast corner of Hillside Road and Washington Street. But when it came down to a plan that included five zoning variances, three landscape variances and a sign variance, they just weren't lovin' it.

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Developers had hoped to to demolish the Citgo gas station on the corner and construct a 3,599-square-foot fast-food restaurant that would be open 24-hours. But council members voted down the plan, saying the drive-through could pose a traffic and safety nightmare on Washington Street, and also could disrupt the nearby residential neighborhood.

The plans called for a right-in and right-out access on Washington and the opportunity to turn left or right when exiting onto Hillside Road. The proposed parking lot would have had 31 spaces instead of the required 61; of those, 11 would have been for employee parking.

"When you look at this in its entirety, it's the parking-the-Cadillac-in-the-closet scenario," Councilman Grant Wehrli said. "It just doesn't work."

The city's planning staff supported the plan and the plan commission voted 8-0 in favor it, but not a single council member could get past the likelihood of creating a smaller-scale "Hillside Strangler."

"I hate to say this but you guys run the business so well that just can't get into a McDonald's at lunchtime so you're a victim of your own success," Councilman Paul Hinterlong told McDonald's officials. "And, unfortunately, I think it will cause more issues at that intersection and that area."

Four residents also pleaded with the council to deny the plan.

Lauren Buchanan and her husband John, who live east of the intersection on Melody Lane, said the development would be detrimental to their neighborhood.

"We really feel like we're going to have an issue with vehicles traversing through our neighborhoods, turning around in our driveways, and those issues are just compounded by certain unique elements of our neighborhood," Lauren Buchanan said. "There are two schools. And there's a ton of bicycle traffic."

McDonald's representatives tried to ease the council's fears by stressing it was in their best interest to not have traffic issues that would reflect negatively on the restaurant.

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